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Alexander Hamilton (January 11, 1755 or 1757 – July 12, 1804) was an American statesman, politician, legal scholar, military commander, lawyer, banker, and economist. He was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was an influential interpreter and promoter of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the founder of the nation's financial system, the Federalist Party, the United States Coast Guard, and the New York Post newspaper. As the first secretary of the treasury, Hamilton was the main author of the economic policies of George Washington's administration. He took the lead in the federal government's funding of the states' debts, as well as establishing the nation's first two de facto central banks, the Bank of North America and the First Bank of the United States, a system of tariffs, and friendly trade relations with Britain. His vision included a strong central government led by a vigorous executive branch, a strong commercial economy, government-controlled banks, support for manufacturing, and a strong military.

Hamilton was born out of wedlock in Charlestown, Nevis. He was orphaned as a child and taken in by a prosperous merchant. When he reached his teens, he was sent to New York to pursue his education. He took an early role in the militia as the American Revolutionary War began. In 1777, he became a senior aide to General Washington in running the new Continental Army. After the war, he was elected as a representative from New York to the Congress of the Confederation. He resigned to practice law and founded the Bank of New York before entering politics. Hamilton was a leader in seeking to replace the weak confederal government under the Articles of Confederation; he led the Annapolis Convention of 1786, which spurred Congress to call a Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. He helped ratify the Constitution by writing 51 of the 85 installments of The Federalist Papers, which are still used as one of the most important references for Constitutional interpretation.

Hamilton led the Treasury Department as a trusted member of President Washington's first Cabinet. Hamilton successfully argued that the implied powers of the Constitution provided the legal authority to fund the national debt, to assume states' debts, and to create the government-backed Bank of the United States (the First Bank of the United States). These programs were funded primarily by a tariff on imports, and later by a controversial whiskey tax. He opposed friendly relations with the French revolutionaries. Hamilton's views became the basis for the Federalist Party, which was opposed to the Democratic-Republican Party led by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. In 1795, he returned to the practice of law in New York. He called for mobilization against the French First Republic in 1798–99 under President John Adams, and became Commanding General of the U.S. Army, which he reconstituted, modernized, and readied for war. The army did not see combat in the Quasi-War, and Hamilton was outraged by Adams' diplomatic approach to the crisis with France. His opposition to Adams' re-election helped cause the Federalist Party defeat in 1800. Jefferson and Aaron Burr tied for the presidency in the electoral college, and Hamilton helped to defeat Burr, whom he found unprincipled, and to elect Jefferson despite philosophical differences.

Hamilton continued his legal and business activities in New York City, and was active in ending the legality of the international slave trade. Vice President Burr ran for governor of New York State in 1804, and Hamilton campaigned against him as unworthy. Taking offense, Burr challenged him to a duel on July 11, 1804, in which Burr shot and mortally wounded Hamilton, who died the following day. Hamilton is generally regarded as an astute and intellectually brilliant politician and financier, if often impetuous. His ideas are credited with laying the foundation for American government and finance.

Alexander Hamilton Media

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Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton

Attributed James Sharples (ca. 1751–1811)

To the unbiassed & independent electors of the State of New-York. Since our last address to you, a publication has appeared, signed by Mr. Alexander Hamilton, as chairman of a committee, said to have been appointed by a numerous meeting of the i

To the unbiassed & independent electors of the State of New-York. Sinc...

Available also through the Library of Congress web site in two forms: as facsimile page images and as full text in SGML. Printed Ephemera Collection; Portfolio 111, Folder 16b.

Alexander Hamilton , May 10, 1790. "Abstract of duties which have accrued on the Tonnage of Foreign & Domestic vessels".

Alexander Hamilton , May 10, 1790. "Abstract of duties which have accr...

Transcripts, guides, and tools to help you use this collection may be found at http://www.loc.gov/collection/james-madison-papers/about-this-collection/.

Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and Henry Knox, July 12, 1793, Minutes Given to President on Armed Vessels
Jean Baptiste de Ternant to Alexander Hamilton, April 30, 1793. In French

Jean Baptiste de Ternant to Alexander Hamilton, April 30, 1793. In Fre...

Transcripts, guides, and tools to help you use this collection may be found at http://www.loc.gov/collection/james-madison-papers/about-this-collection/.

Alexander Hamilton, April 18, 1793, Hamilton's Thoughts on Foreign Affairs, in Thomas Jefferson's Hand

Alexander Hamilton, April 18, 1793, Hamilton's Thoughts on Foreign Aff...

Hamilton's Thoughts on Foreign Affairs, in Thomas Jefferson's Hand

Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton

Giuseppe Ceracchi (Italian, 1751–1802)

Principles and course of proceeding, with regard to the disposition of the monies borrowed abroad by virtue of the acts of the 4th and 12th of August, as to the point of authority. Alexander Hamilton, secretary of the Treasury. Philadelphia, Apr

Principles and course of proceeding, with regard to the disposition of...

Available also through the Library of Congress web site in two forms: as facsimile page images and as full text in SGML. Printed Ephemera Collection; Portfolio 220, Folder 5a.

Frontispiece Tisdale del. ; Scoles sculp

Frontispiece Tisdale del. ; Scoles sculp

Print shows a female figure representing "History" directing George Washington, Nathanael Greene, and Alexander Hamilton up a steep mountain roadway toward the Temple of Fame. Title from item. Trimmed to within... more

The Monument to Alexander Hamilton at Weehawken

The Monument to Alexander Hamilton at Weehawken

Pavel Petrovich Svinin (1787/88–1839)

James Madison to Alexander Hamilton, Jr., July 9, 1831.

James Madison to Alexander Hamilton, Jr., July 9, 1831.

Transcripts, guides, and tools to help you use this collection may be found at http://www.loc.gov/collection/james-madison-papers/about-this-collection/.

[Unidentified man, half-length portrait, facing three-quarters to the right]

[Unidentified man, half-length portrait, facing three-quarters to the ...

Alternative identification: Alexander Hamilton Stephens; A.H. Stephenson (cat. 5). Scratched on face of plate: 274; A.H. Stephens. Scratched on back of plate: 118; A.H. Stevenson, Va. Transfer; U.S. War College... more

[Panel and medallion details from bronze doors for the east portico of the Senate wing, U.S. Capitol]

[Panel and medallion details from bronze doors for the east portico of...

Photograph of bronze doors detail showing panel, depicting the battle of Yorktown and gallantry of Alexander Hamilton, and allegorical medallion of war, depicting Hessian soldier and New Jersey farmer, from bot... more

[Alexander H. Stephens, Representative from Georgia, Thirty-fifth Congress, half-length portrait]

[Alexander H. Stephens, Representative from Georgia, Thirty-fifth Cong...

Illus. in: McClees' gallery of photographic portraits of the senators, representatives & delegates of the thirty-fifth Congress... Washington: McClees & Beck, [1859], page 167. Each item includes subject's orig... more

[Alexander Hamilton Stephens, half-length studio portrait, sitting] / John Goldin & Co. photographers.

[Alexander Hamilton Stephens, half-length studio portrait, sitting] / ...

Title devised by Library staff. Gift ; Francis H. McAdoo ; August 26, 1949.

Prominent candidates for the Democratic nomination at Charleston, S.C. [Composite of bust portraits of Stephens, Orr, Davis, Guthrie, Slidell, Pierce, J. Lane, Hunter, Breckenridge, Douglas, and Houston]

Prominent candidates for the Democratic nomination at Charleston, S.C....

Wood engr. after photographs by Brady. Illus. in: Harper's Weekly, v. 4, (1860 April 21), p.248-249. Title and other information transcribed from caption card. Caption card tracings: Photog. I.; Presidents Elec... more

The cabinet of the Confederate States at Montgomery / from photographs by Whitehurst, of Washington, and Hinton, of Montgomery, Alabama.

The cabinet of the Confederate States at Montgomery / from photographs...

Group portrait of the Confederate cabinet including President Jefferson Davis, Vice President Alexander Hamilton Stephens, Attorney General Judah P. Benjamin, Secretary of the Navy Stephen M. Mallory, Secretary... more

Jeff Davis on the right platform, or the last "act of secession"

Jeff Davis on the right platform, or the last "act of secession"

A caricature of Jefferson Davis, probably issued not long after the bombardment of Fort Sumter, but certainly postdating his February 1861 election as president of the Confederacy. Davis is shown standing on a ... more

The Southern Confederacy a fact!!! Acknowledged by a might prince and faithful ally

The Southern Confederacy a fact!!! Acknowledged by a might prince and ...

A biting vilification of the Confederacy, representing it as a government in league with Satan. From left to right are: "Mr. Mob Law Chief Justice," a well-armed ruffian carrying a pot of tar; Secretary of Stat... more

Jeff Davis, on his own platform, or the last "act of secession"

Jeff Davis, on his own platform, or the last "act of secession"

Another state of no. 1861-23, with the addition of a skull and crossbones drawn on Davis's chest. Probably published by Currier & Ives, New York. Title appears as it is written on the item. Weitenkampf, p. 129.... more

Stephens, Hon. Alexander Hamilton of Georgia (Vice-President of the Confederacy) (with colored man attendant)

Stephens, Hon. Alexander Hamilton of Georgia (Vice-President of the Co...

Title from unverified information on negative sleeve. Annotation from negative, scratched into emulsion: Alex Stephens, 32052, 2048, 227 [crossed out], 271 [crossed out], 989 [crossed out]. Horan item no. 118. ... more

Hon. Alexander Hamilton Stephens Vice-President of the Confederacy item No. 242

Hon. Alexander Hamilton Stephens Vice-President of the Confederacy ite...

Title from unverified information on negative sleeve. Annotation from negative, scratched into emulsion: [illiegible] 1360 [crossed out], No. 162 [crossed out], 583 [crossed out], 304. Credit line: Brady-Handy ... more